Next time you're driving up the Central Coast, make a stop at Pearl Beach. It's the first settlement east of Patonga — a swathe of national park cuts between the two — and Pearl faces Broken Bay. Protected by the National Trust, it's reached its maximum capacity, at 600 dwellings. So, while other parts of the Central Coast battle with sprawl, this village, with its sheltered beach and ocean pool, is sitting pretty.
Scott Fox is head chef at Pearl Beach's aptly-named Pearls on the Beach. He and partner, Melissa Fox, who's the manager, have been running the beachside restaurant for 13 years. Housed in a beach cottage just a few steps from the sand, the restaurant is clean and uncluttered, with pastel colours and white tablecloths. So your focus stays on what matters: the view and the food, which was given one hat in the 2016 Good Food Guide.
Scott is a clever and adventurous chef, keen on experimenting with unexpected combinations and international influences. Produce is delivered fresh every morning, and Scott turns them into dishes that reflect mini artworks. Fennel fritters are served with walnut cream, pickled fennel, blood orange and parsley; carrots are spiced with Ethiopian berbere alongside date labne, cauliflower couscous, almonds, green harissa and herbs; seared sea scallops are topped with coconut and tamarind puree, peanut sambal, cauliflower, bean and cucumber; mango cheesecake comes deconstructed and sprinkled with macadamias.
If you're looking for a sunny Sunday lunch with the splendour of some of the Central Coast's best produce (and views), make the trip to Pearls on the Beach.